Our research

Our research

Our research activities play a central role in our success. Our research income grew by 87 per cent between 2008/9 and 2014/15, enabling us to recruit the best academic researchers and to offer hundreds of funded PhD studentships annually. We are at the forefront of global and national research collaboration, actively supporting staff and students to build working relationships with counterparts overseas.

We are particularly committed to encouraging new ideas and nurturing talent, and as such we boast an extremely high number of early career researchers at Exeter. Thirty per cent of our academic staff are early career researchers currently, a much greater proportion than most other universities. This makes the University of Exeter one of the very best places to pursue postgraduate study.

Find out more about our institutional research.


What our students say:

"I’ve found that the research quality is very high, with excellent guidance available"

“I chose the LLM at Exeter because of the international outlook, excellent research-led modules and prestigious team of senior lecturers. I’ve since found that the research quality is very high, with excellent guidance available to help you pursue individual interests. Exeter also has fantastic library facilities, a strong student support system, and of course a beautiful campus! I hope to join an NGO as a lawyer and activist when I leave, and I’ve received careers guidance to help me achieve this, including help with my CV.”

Siddhi, studying LLM International Human Rights Law


"It is small enough to have a supportive, ‘family’ feel but also has an excellent reputation for research"

“The Theology department has an extremely supportive group of staff and an exciting range of research specialisms. There are also postgraduate research seminars available to widen interest. The staff have a great mix of faith backgrounds, which is refreshing and very helpful in terms of an open study environment. It is small enough to have a supportive, ‘family’ feel but also has an excellent reputation for research and some well-known theologians on staff.”

Catherine, studying MA Theology


REF 2014

  • Following the REF HEFCE has awarded us an additional £3.8 million for research, the third highest gain amongst English universities.
  • We are ranked 16th nationally taking account of the proportion of staff submitted.*
  • 98 per cent of the University of Exeter's research is of international quality.
    This is a significant increase since RAE 2008 when 82 per cent of our research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Our world-leading (4*) research has increased from 17 per cent to 29 per cent compared to the RAE in 2008.
  • Our market share of world-leading or internationally excellent research has increased by 22 per cent.
  • We have nine Units of Assessment in the top 10 nationally for world-leading or internationally excellent research with three in the top five.
    Theology (2nd), Area Studies, Archaeology (3rd), Politics (5th), Sociology, Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Public Health, Biological Sciences.
  • We rank 16th nationally for world-leading (4*) publications and 11th in the Russell Group.

Find out more about our REF 2014 results.

Outstanding support for postgraduate and early career researchers

The University of Exeter Doctoral College stimulates, supports and sustains a vibrant research and intellectual environment across and between disciplines for postgraduate and early career researchers. Focusing on investment and development in training, resources and facilities, the Doctoral College provides an outstanding quality experience for those in the early stages of their research careers.

Development opportunities at our Doctoral College

We provide:

To find out more about these and other support and development opportunities available to our postgraduate researchers at the University of Exeter, visit the Doctoral College website.

Doctoral Training Partnerships

As part of our sustained commitment to developing new talent and building research capacity, we continue to invest millions of pounds in our research infrastructure, and we are one of only a handful of universities to have successfully secured Doctoral Training Partnerships with each of the UK Research Councils. 

Find out more about our Doctoral Training Partnerships.

*Not including specialist institutions, or those with anomalous data.

Research at Exeter

As a Russell Group University our research makes a difference across the world.

Interdisciplinary research is an engine to innovation and a hallmark of Exeter’s recent success. Our research bridges the gap between the arts, humanities, social sciences and pure sciences to tackle global challenges, such as food security and ageing, in a holistic way.

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Impact